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by Chris Teale — May 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A new startup is looking to help landlords and tenants through every stage of the rental process, from listing and vetting potential renters to dealing with maintenance requests.

Sisters Miriam and Brenda Bolanos started Clarendon-based Leaseably last year, and began serving customers in April. The pair also have experience managing Airbnb properties, and said they want to save potential landlords money and time when they look to lease out their property.

The service is aimed at those who are looking to rent out one or two properties, as opposed to being for large apartment buildings, which already have in-house management and maintenance.

“If you think about it just conceptually, the options that owners have today for property management is a real estate company or managing it by themselves,” said Brenda Bolanos. “There’s nothing in between. So we are that in-between that will offer assistance to owners to help them manage their property to save time and to save money so they don’t have to pay as much as real estate companies charge.”

After registering their interest in using Leaseably, a potential landlord must provide details on their property and some photographs. The company then takes care of listing the property and being the point-of-contact for interested renters, before then coordinating viewings.

Once vetting potential renters, homeowners have the option to either prepare the lease themselves or use Leaseably to go through a realtor to prepare the paperwork. After providing an inspection list for move-in, tenants are in place.

But Leaseably’s services extend beyond getting homeowners a tenant. Once the renter is in place, they can help troubleshoot problems in the home and coordinate with a contractor to provide maintenance.

And the pair said that doing everything through virtual assistant software should help maintain a relationship between the landlord and their tenant by addressing needs quickly and automating as much as possible.

“Property management and real estate overall hasn’t had a change like everything else we have experienced with embracing new technologies,” said Brenda Bolanos. “Things haven’t changed in years, and of course part of it is regulation. I think there’s an opportunity to do things in a cost-effective manner, not compromising the security or trust of people, but opening that space that will offer a service at a reasonable price and that also responds to tenants and landlords.”

The sisters began Leaseably having spent a decade working for international organizations and managing Airbnb properties in Arlington. They said they had heard about other people’s difficulties managing their rented properties while working abroad or traveling, and so wanted to make things easier for everyone.

“One of the lessons was to have clear communication channels with tenants,” said Brenda Bolanos. “To know what they can expect and be able to respond when they need something in the property. We had long-term people who were abroad working for the government, and good communication was the best experience.”

by Chris Teale — May 15, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A mobile app that allows customers to have their dry cleaning and laundry picked up, done and returned expanded its service into Arlington last month.

Cleanly, a Manhattan-based startup, now serves the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, including Clarendon and Courthouse. Since launching in 2015, it has cleaned more than 2.5 million pounds of laundry.

Company co-founder and CEO Tom Harari said Arlington is the perfect market for its service: full of professionals who commute to and from work each day who do not necessarily have time to do laundry.

Users are able to schedule pick-ups online and via the app in a few clicks, and can provide customized cleaning and laundering instructions to Cleanly’s vendors in minutes. Users can also use the app to a photo highlighting stains on clothes for attaching to the order.

Cleanly’s RUSH feature allows customers to designate their pick-up and delivery time to the hour and receive their clothes back the same day, while tracking their delivery on the app’s map using GPS.

Harari said the app was born to help those either too busy to do laundry, without facilities nearby or unable to drop their clothes off with a cleaning company.

“With so many of these services going towards app-based in the tech world, it seemed logical to me that this would become an industry that would be overturned by technology and made simpler,” Harari said. “It just wasn’t, there was nobody doing this at the time and it kept sitting on my head. I kept asking myself, ‘Why doesn’t someone do this?’ And finally I just said, why don’t I try this?”

And the technology in the app, like letting customers photograph stains to be removed, is to help what can be an arduous task simpler and try to remove any issues that might crop up.

“We start with the basic understanding that laundry is just not a fun thing,” Harari said. “People don’t like to do laundry, and if we can take that one task off of people’s task list or chore list of the week, then we’ve accomplished what we need to accomplish. So we’ve always tried to think of, how can we delight customers? It’s our No. 1 core value.”

Cleanly makes use of local wholesale cleaners in the region to carry out orders for customers, something he said is similar to dry cleaners, which generally do not do their own cleaning any more.

So far, Harari said business has been brisk, on the back of an advertising campaign on the Metro system, direct mail and social media.

“It’s been about two or three weeks already that we’ve been in Arlington and so far, so good,” Harari said. “We’ve already built up a sizable waitlist, so people from Arlington have already heard of Cleanly and are signing up…This is how we wanted it to work, so that by the time we were ready logistically and operationally to open up, we had a pool of users who were already interested in the service and could turn it on and get what they want.”

by Chris Teale — May 8, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Imagine filling in an online questionnaire, paying a fee and having someone else plan a surprise vacation for you, from the destination to the activities you will do once there.

The Vacation Hunt offers just that, founded by two residents near Columbia Pike about two months ago. Co-founder Roshni Agarwal said it was inspired by their love of travel, which she does a lot with husband and co-founder Jeff Allen.

“People are always commenting, ‘How do you decide where to go? How do you have time to plan everything?'” Agarwal said. “Our response is always that we just go. We see an open weekend, and we say we’ll just go somewhere. It doesn’t really matter where, we just go.”

On its website, those interested in such a planned vacation enter basic details like whether they want to travel domestically or abroad, how long for and if they want to travel alone or with others.

Then, a questionnaire gives customers options of the kind of vacation they are looking for — a city break, beach vacation or adventure holiday, for example — and they can list anywhere they have already been or are already planning to go to. Would-be vacationers also specify which airport they would prefer to fly out of.

With that form filled out and money paid, customers have the option of receiving clues about their destination either via social media, email or text message, to build the anticipation. Then a week before departure date, a full itinerary is sent out with travel and accommodation details as well as activities.

The company also offers separate trip planning for those with their destination already in mind, helping create an itinerary based on customers’ budgets.

Agarwal said having the vacation be something of a surprise is to try and inject an element of fun into the planning process.

“When you’re older, everything is kind of planned for you, at least that’s been my thing,” she said. “You have your life goals and whatever, and whenever you do have surprises, they’re not good. You never get a good surprise as an adult, or at least I have yet to. I wanted to do something that would be fun and bring back that joy of being young again.”

Already, Agarwal said, The Vacation Hunt has planned a variety of surprise trips, including its first group outing as it sent 20 people to Seattle for a surprise party. Agarwal said it has gained a following in Dallas, where the pair lived before moving to Arlington, and that now its focus is on growing its stature in the D.C. region.

The company has also been approached to help engaged couples plan their honeymoons, a market Agarwal said they might look to expand in the future.

“We’ve also been asked to do two honeymoons, so we might try to expand more into the honeymoon area, because you’re already under the stress of wedding planning, it’s one less thing to do, which we hadn’t really thought of when we started this,” she said.

Image via Facebook

by Chris Teale — May 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

As the spring turns to summer, one of many certainties in the D.C. region along with the stifling heat and humidity is the influx of interns from across the country.

And those interns, either still in college or recent graduates, typically are in need of somewhere to stay.

That’s where Capstay comes in, offering short-term rentals for interns in addition to accommodations for international students studying in the D.C. area. The company also offers short-term housing for professionals on temporary assignments, including for those in the military.

It was founded in 2015 by Dilek and Emre Yenici, and the majority of its rental apartments are in Crystal City, with some also in Fairfax.

The pair said they began the business after doing some market research and finding a lack of intern-specific housing in some states like California and the D.C. metropolitan area.

“The Crystal City, Arlington and D.C. area is expensive for housing,” said Emre Yenici. “There are lots of interns in the area throughout the year, and they are looking for short-term housing. We are trying to provide them short-term, pre-furnished, all utilities included housing to interns.”

Tenants can either have a private or shared room, or an entire apartment. All properties are fully furnished and have a variety of amenities like laundry, cleaning services and bicycle rental. Utilities are also included in rent, which varies depending on the season.

Apartments vary in size between studio and three-bedroom, and include all the amenities of the private and shared rooms.

Emre Yenici said Capstay has been proactive in partnering with universities and other institutions like language schools, government bodies and agencies that help match up prospective interns with companies.

The diverse nature of their client base means that while summer is a busier time for Capstay, there are still plenty of customers year-round, enough to keep their residences filled.

“We are trying to fill all our gaps with different customer bases,” Emre Yenici said. “There are some interns starting their internships in different times of the year, and other small groups are interning in other different times. They need shorter-term housing, so we fill our gaps like that.”

In the summer, the Yenicis said, they expect around 100 tenants, and so expand their housing stock to take into account the higher demand.

And in the future, Emre Yenici said Capstay could expand into the District to take advantage of the need for intern housing across the Potomac River.

“About 95% of our properties are in Crystal City, but D.C. is a good market,” he said. “The next step will be D.C., and we will try to expand our business downtown.”

by Chris Teale — April 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

With the growth of electric vehicles nationwide, one Arlington startup is looking to solve what could be a common problem: the need for extra electricity when not near a charging station.

Electric Feel works on the same principle as a portable battery bank that can charge a cell phone. Its energy storage device holds about 5 kilowatts of power, which translates to about 25 miles per charge for an electric vehicle.

Company founder Farah Brunache has been designing her storage device for over a year, and said she was inspired by driving an electric car herself but not using her apartment complex’s charging facilities every night.

“That’s when I realized I needed to look hard at when I was able to reach my destination that following day, and that’s when I thought of the concept of doing a partial charge, which is basically what my device does,” she said. “I essentially started the business to fill in the gap of needing to partially charge your vehicle.”

Currently, the storage device Brunache is designing weighs around 20 pounds, which she said “sounds super heavy.” She said the design is still in the early stages so she used standard batteries, but in the future hopes to cut the device’s weight in half to 10 pounds or less.

“I like to tell people it’s similar to how people carry their bikes to work,” Brunache said. “You’ll ride with it, and it’s not heavy then, and then when you’re going to transition into a building or lock it up, then yes you have to lift it. It is weighty but manageable.”

Right now, Brunache said her goal is to start shipping the product at the end of this year or the beginning of next to begin beta testing. Those interested in helping test the device — and Brunache said there has been a lot of interest — can sign up online. The process of working out how to manufacture the product is ongoing.

“It’s still being tested, and I’m speaking to these different manufacturers to get a better understanding of what a minimum order would need to be,” Brunache said. “Right now, I’m working on starting beta testing, getting feedback and working on final design changes. Throughout that process, I’ll gather a list of individuals interested in testing, so then it can help set expectations of manufacturing.”

Given the growth of electric vehicle use both in Arlington and nationwide, and the additions of charging stations at apartment buildings, parking garages and stores, Brunache said her device can help fill a growing need.

“One of the things is electric vehicles, the way that we as drivers use them, we always need electricity, just like in life, kind of like how we always need water,” she said. “It’s a resource we’re constantly needing. I definitely see this as something that will be loved by the masses, especially as more electric vehicles get on the road.”

by Chris Teale — April 17, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A county startup was one of just six companies selected last week for a business accelerator focused on helping cities be smarter and more livable.

Arlington-based Greater Places will participate in the Smart City Works Infrastructure Actuator, the first in the Greater Washington area, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced on Friday.

The accelerator focuses on growing young companies that help make cities smarter, more livable and more resilient. This program, operated in conjunction with the Center for Innovative Technology, is anticipated to help drive innovation in infrastructure while fostering economic development.

Also in the program are McLean- and San Jose, Calif.-based UnomicEdge; Integrated Health Solutions of D.C.; Infraccess of New York; Chicago-based Capital Construction Solutions and PlanIT Impact of Kansas City, Mo.

Greater Places provides urban design solutions including models of transit-oriented development, and it is already looking ahead to the growth of driverless vehicles. It comprises a soon-to-be-launched mobile app as well as the website, which have evolved from it previously being published as a physical textbook, and is based at startup incubator 1776.

Founder Lisa Nisenson previously helped create “Cards Against Urbanity,” a parody of the irreverent card game “Cards Against Humanity” to get players thinking about urban planning while poking fun at the cities they live in.

The incubator program consists of an intense 90-day business boot camp where startups are mentored in creating a sustainable and successful business, with a focus on identifying pilot opportunities, testing and marketing opportunities.

Smart City Works brings together subject-matter experts, industry leaders and investors to help launch, build, and grow successful startups.

Nisenson said in an interview that one-on-one mentorship is one of the most helpful aspects of the program.

The one-on-one attention that everyone’s getting is so completely essential,” Nisenson said. “There’s other types of incubators, and a lot of times you don’t get that one-on-one, it’s just, ‘Here’s the business model canvas, here’s the PowerPoint, check it out.’ In this case, they can go straight into your data and tell you what to modify and look at customer segments. It’s that attention to really honing in.”

The spring program ends on June 28 with a Demo Day, where companies will have the opportunity to pitch and demonstrate their technology to an audience of external mentors, investors and stakeholders.

“This first-in-the-nation business accelerator affirms Virginia’s role as a leader in creating livable, resilient communities,” said McAuliffe in a statement. “It will harness our region’s valuable assets and will attract technology companies from across the globe to the commonwealth. The actuator will allow us to bring cutting-edge technology to market, deploying these innovations in smart communities across Virginia and making us a national model for smart cities.”

by Chris Teale — April 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Think of private investigators, and you might think of Magnum P.I. or Sherlock Holmes.

But from its new Crystal City headquarters, Trustify is looking to challenge those perceptions. Open since March 2015, it has now moved into a new space in Arlington, where it matches up private investigators with customers.

Trustify co-founder Jen Mellon said the company’s diverse staff — more than half are women — has helped make it more accessible to more people.

“There’s a lot of brand debt,” Mellon said. “We’ve worked hard to change the face of the industry. I think a lot of our success is because our team looks like their consumer.”

Trustify allows anyone to run background checks, investigate fraud, locate missing children, check for infidelity and more from their web browser or the phone app. A consultation with a private investigator takes place over Trustify’s chat application, then investigators choose whether to pursue a case.

Company co-founder Danny Boice said that while about half of investigators’ work is done using standard surveillance techniques, much of it now is done through investigations of someone’s online presence and on the dark web.

“The internet makes a great accelerator for dishonesty,” he said. “For all the things it provides exponential growth, it also provides the perfect catalyst for puffing up your Facebook profile or LinkedIn or lying about not being in a relationship when you’re on Tinder, all those things.”

Mellon said Trustify recruits a lot among ex-law enforcement officers, including police and those retiring from agencies like the FBI and CIA. She said that the company conducts its own vetting of applicants to ensure their credentials and experience stack up, and that there are no black marks on their record.

Once someone is employed at Trustify, they step into an office culture that aims to make everyone feel comfortable. Employees have a designated space on the walls for photographs, while behind hidden doors are rooms for nursing mothers and other relaxation spaces.

Mellon said it was imperative to make employees feel valued internally, while externally, being surrounded by other technology firms and startups adds value too.

“We wanted a space not only to support our team, but support the work that we do,” Mellon said. “It’s nice to be a part of that technology community. It’s so conducive to the work we’re doing. We don’t have a lot of time to go somewhere else, so it’s nice to be in this concentrated technology corridor that we’re proud to be a part of.”

Trustify employed architecture firm Wingate Hughes to design its new office space, a process that took about eight weeks before another 12 weeks of construction.

Gavin Daniels, co-founding principal at Wingate Hughes, said the firm wanted Trustify employees to feel comfortable in their new space, while at the same time making it unique.

“I wanted something for them that was badass,” Daniels said. “I wanted someone to walk in and have that visceral reaction of, ‘Holy s–t. This is an office building? I can’t believe I’m standing here in an office building.’ I wanted people to get their breath taken away, smile and feel something.”

With the use of technology in a welcoming office environment, Boice said they are working hard to change how people view private investigation.

“We analyzed the market and found it’s an old industry that’s white male dominated, it’s a 1 percenter service,” he said. “We saw that if you changed how it could be consumed and made it accessible to everyone, then it could be this very large, new industry.”

More photos of Trustify’s new Crystal City office:

Danny Boice photo via Trustify

by Katie Pyzyk — April 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Attending college comes with a variety of challenges, but the team behind 4stay doesn’t want finding secure and affordable student housing to be one of them.

The Crystal City-based startup’s founders — Akobir Azamovich and Faridun Nazarov — spent the past six years working in the housing rental field to learn industry trends and best practices. They recently launched 4stay with the help of Crystal City’s 1776 startup incubator.

4stay functions similarly to rental sites like Airbnb, but it’s for short- to medium-term student stays rather than vacations. Students — including graduate students and interns — can search for available housing based on factors like property size, neighborhood, length of stay and whether they prefer to live alone or with others.

The listings showcase the properties’ features, prices and photos. Residences come in a variety of types, from an entire apartment to a room in someone’s house, but they all must be fully furnished and the student must have an entire bedroom of their own.

4stay employees assist those on both sides of the housing equation. On the property side, they work with families or individuals who wish to rent out a room to ensure the owner can provide a safe, student-ready residence. On the rental side, employees learn about a student’s needs and their length of study to negotiate the lease. The 4stay team indicates that it also benefits students because its prices often are more reasonable than other choices.

“By providing options beyond realty companies in a centralized location, it’s a much more appropriate way for students to find the price point they’re looking for,” says marketing manager Leah Wald.

Azamovich and Nazarov are from Tajikistan and went to school in Northern Virginia. They have firsthand experience with the sometimes challenging and cumbersome process of finding student housing, especially in an unfamiliar city.

“The founders… want to help other students overcome their problems of finding safe, affordable housing near their school,” says Wald. “Having dealt with these problems themselves… is why they decided to found their company.”

The business currently serves students in the D.C. metro area, with a focus on Arlington and Northern Virginia. Although the 4stay team expects to spread into other cities at some point, right now they’re focused on ensuring a quality experience instead of expansion.

“Our primary goal to make sure platform is best it can be… and helping as many students as possible,” Wald says.

by Chris Teale — March 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Starting in late April, cat and dog owners can track their pets and find animal-friendly places to eat and stay in one place.

Set to hit major app stores next month, Roaming Tails will provide one platform for all pet owners’ biggest needs. Ballston resident Jaime Bowerman founded the company in 2014, inspired by Flipflop, her Daschund.

“In talking to many other pet parents, they seemed to have similar sorts of problems, and there’s really no good place to find accurate data that tells us where we can take our pets,” Bowerman said. “She also had a mind of her own like most dogs do, and there had been a time where I thought she was missing, which was kind of scary.”

Pets are connected to their owners through a tag around their neck, which connects to the app via Bluetooth. That tag then integrates with the app to provide medical records, and has a long battery life of upwards of a year.

The app will be available for free download. Tag services would be available for a one-off payment of $39.99, but no monthly fees.

And while the Bluetooth capabilities limit the range of separation between an owner and their pet to about 50 yards, Bowerman said there has progress on that front.

In January, company employees attended the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and agreed to partner with a major tag provider to have tags that use Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.

Bowerman said that combined with the Ballston Business Improvement District’s initiative to deliver free wi-fi in the neighborhood’s public spaces can help grow the product’s use.

“What we’re really hoping to do on launch in early April is to make [Ballston] the most pet-friendly place possible that we can,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting technology.”

With the launch a matter of weeks away, Bowerman said she and her colleagues are working to get the app as perfect as possible by testing it among themselves. But with hopes of partnerships with pet stores and veterinarians, they have grand ambitions.

Roaming Tails also could be at the forefront of partnerships with local pet-friendly restaurants, Bowerman said.

“Let’s say you’re walking past a restaurant with our tag, what happens is your phone will bark at you and say, ‘Bring Fido in for two-for-one drinks,'” she said. “It really is a way for restaurants to easily market to people with pets and to easily set up rewards programs and things like that.”

Bowerman said with the way the relationship is evolving between pets and their owners, this app can fill a valuable need in one place.

“Technology is changing the way we life live with our pets, but unfortunately it just takes a lot of apps to enhance the quality of life or change that,” she said. “What we have done is taken most features and put them on one platform that allows you to do these things.”

by Katie Pyzyk — March 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Want a way to impress friends with a wild video camera trick, à la “The Matrix”? OrcaVue will spin your camera right round, baby, right round to create a professional-looking effect.

The Orcavue in use.The patent-pending technology revolves a camera around whatever item or person is positioned on a central, stationary platform.

The idea was born in October 2014 when Daniel Rosenberry and his brother, Jonathan, owned a small production company and wanted to pull off a 360-degree camera shot, but they didn’t have the proper equipment and didn’t have the money to hire a crew.

Rosenberry came up with some rough sketches for a device and showed his father, who constructed the first protype from “a bunch of stuff from our garage,” Rosenberry said. “A coffee can, a lazy susan and random stuff… he essentially built the very first ‘garage’ version of what the OrcaVue is.”

The Rosenberrys told their friend, Adam Boussouf, about the camera rig idea and he suggested patenting it. “Really, we weren’t thinking about it as any sort of business endeavor” and didn’t know how to go about that, Rosenberry said. So Boussouf came on board and took care of the business aspects.

“My brother had the initial vision. I designed everything. Dad put it together. And our friend pushed us to form a business. So we’re the four co-founders,” Rosenberry said.

Soon after officially launching the business in early 2015, orders quickly piled up. “It was definitely chaotic,” Rosenberry said. “We started getting a lot of orders coming in… and we didn’t quite know what to do.”

An early version of the Orcavue deviceThey realized they had to manufacture a lot of units in a short time span and did research to find a machine workshop. They found TechShop in Crystal City, which still is OrcaVue’s home base and where the devices are manufactured.

As for the name, OrcaVue is an acronym, of sorts, for “orbiting camera view.” The team wanted to have an animal on its logo and they did an internet search for animals that are known for circling, to reference the product’s circling functions. Fittingly, they learned that orcas — also called killer whales — swim circles around their prey. Thus, the OrcaVue name and logo came full circle and was adopted.

The business has evolved to become less about selling the camera rigs and more about selling services. The OrcaVue employees now spend most of their time on equipment rentals and event production. They show up at weddings, red carpet events and new product launches to work the machine and shoot video of the events.

OrcaVue doesn’t simply have local customers, either. The device has been used to shoot videos for numerous high-profile national clients including Olympian Simone Biles, Twitter, the Golden Globe Awards, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks and the TV show Dancing with the Stars.

OrcaVue employees continuously work on product improvements to devise a bigger, better, lighter system that can go faster and support heavier cameras.

As far as general business goals, Rosenberry would like further expansion, both in terms of the number of employees and in product and service reach. “I’d like to… grow the business regionally as well as internationally,” Rosenberry said. He’s working on that by setting up a partnership in Sweden and Australia to more easily cater to international clients.

“We’ve already surpassed anything we imagined that could happen,” Rosenberry said. “We’re a pretty relaxed company. We basically hired my friends and we all work together on it and have a great time.”

by Chris Teale — March 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Passengers at the region’s airports could have an easier time during their travels thanks to a new partnership between the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

1776 front deskThe partnership, announced last month, means the two organizations will work together to find and mentor firms that look to use technology to make air travel more efficient. That technology includes proposals that can benefit airports, transit agencies and more.

MWAA operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles airports, as well as the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road. It also manages construction of the Silver Line project into Loudoun County.

“In today’s rapidly changing world of business and commerce, it is imperative that transportation providers, such as airports, take advantage of new technologies that help us meet the demands and expectations of our increasingly mobile customers,” said MWAA president and CEO Jack Potter in a statement.

Already, 1776 is affiliated with companies that look to improve the travel experience in and around airports. The startup incubator, which has an office at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, partnered with mobile application company Airside Mobile to add Automated Passport Control devices that help international passengers arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport be processed more quickly.

Reagan Airport (file photo)MWAA also has been innovating through a partnership with CLEAR, a firm that helps its members move quickly through airport security lines and advances the use of biometric technology for security screening.

Additionally, the authority has invested in mobile app technology to aid security screening and airport signage, and is developing patented processes and technologies to make airport operations more efficient.

“Startups and new technologies continue to rapidly disrupt the way we travel from point A to point B,” said Evan Burfield, cofounder and CEO of 1776, in a statement. “1776 is excited to partner with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to harness the latest innovations within the transportation and aviation industry.”

by Chris Teale — March 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Boston-based GreenSight Agronomics won this year’s annual Startup Arlington competition, Arlington Economic Development announced last week.

Selected from 129 applicants from 18 states and six international locations, GreenSight uses automated drones to take daily aerial images. Its stated mission is to become a go-to source for aerial information.

GreenSight logoThe company’s platform transforms that imagery into actionable information that can optimize businesses, drive automated decision systems and future autonomous robots.

The company already has contracts with Arlington-based agencies like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research as well as the Air Force Research Lab, the U.S. Army and the University of Maryland.

GreenSight Agronomics will move two employees to start its operations in the county next month.

“GreenSight is exactly the type of technology company that can truly succeed here in Arlington,” said Christina Winn, Arlington Economic Development’s director of business investment, in a statement. “GreenSight’s ability to easily connect with federal agencies and other top research institutions, many of which are already working with the company, will really position the company to be able to grow and succeed quickly. It’s the ideal company to be selected as the Startup Arlington winner.”

GreenSight will receive up to $25,000 from the private equity firm Kiddar Capital, plus get three months of complimentary office space in 1776 in Crystal City and complimentary living space for that time at the nearby WhyHotel, courtesy of developer Vornado.

It also will receive complimentary Metro passes and a Capital Bikeshare membership, provided by Arlington Transportation Partners, and a package of lifestyle amenities and restaurant offers from the Crystal City Business Improvement District.

“GreenSight has customers, investors and collaborators in the D.C. area,” said GreenSight founder James Peverill in a statement. “An office in the Arlington is a great opportunity to engage these partners more effectively and take advantage of the rich and growing ecosystem in the area.”

Startup Arlington applicants were evaluated on criteria ranging from how the company would benefit from locating in Arlington to growth potential and business plans. To be eligible, applicants must have been from outside the greater capital region and the application made under the direction of a founder and/or CEO of a technology-based company.

by Tim Regan — February 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Worker in office, photo courtesy of Curiosity MediaWhen online dictionary SpanishDict.com hit the web in 1999, its primary audience was English speakers looking to learn Spanish. The idea was simple: to create an easy-to-use resource for students and learners that would serve as the definitive guide for translating Spanish words into English.

Nearly 20 years later, the tables have turned. Today, a good chunk of the site’s 14 million monthly users are native Spanish speakers who want to learn English. And that number is growing, said Chris Cummings, CEO of the Rosslyn-based startup behind SpanishDict, Curiosity Media

SpanishDict on a phone, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“People ask us all the time if we’ve considered going into other languages,” Cummings said. “The answer is that we are going into a new audience, but it’s actually the same language pair.”

Cummings is no stranger to finding new audiences. In 2013, he helped launch Fluencia, a subscription-based Spanish learning program. The software course features an “adaptive pace” and an automated tutoring system to help users become more fluent. Since its launch, Fluencia has grown its monthly user base to around 800,000 learners from across the world.

Though Fluencia continues to expand, Cummings said his company’s dictionary services are growing at an even quicker pace.

Worker in office another angle, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“We’re adding thousands and thousands of new Spanish speakers every week,” he said. “We already have millions on the site.”

Cummings added that there could even come a day where there’s just as many native Spanish speakers using SpanishDict as there are native English speakers, if not more.

“For every English speaker that’s interested in communicating in Spanish, there’s about three or four Spanish speakers that are interested in communicating in English,” he said. “It’s a much, much bigger market.”

Part of the reason for such a steep rate of user growth is the sheer number of “bells and whistles” that SpanishDict offers, Cummings said. People who might otherwise use a “quick and dirty” translation service like Google Translate are drawn to SpanishDict’s many features.

“If you want native audio pronunciation of a word, we got that. If you want to know how to conjugate verbs, we got that. If you want to see the word in real life example sentences, we got that,” Cummings said. “For all these reasons, it just becomes a better way to be a first stop for translating a word than maybe what you see on Google Translate.”

Workers in the Curiosity Media office, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpgHe continued, “We’re able to go so deep on this language pair is because there are more than 800 million native English and Spanish speakers in the world. That’s what enables us to go so deep and provide such high value content in this language pair.”

In 2013, Curiosity Media had just a handful of employees. Now, it has 17 in its office in Rosslyn, and it’s still growing.

The company currently is hiring for engineering and product management positions.

by Tim Regan — February 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Imagine you’ve just set up a state-of-the-art home security system with all the bells and whistles. The alarms are set. The motion detectors are on. The cameras are live. But there’s a problem: You don’t know how to use any of that equipment. Are you really any safer than before?

MyVCM screenshot, real-time dataThat’s an analogy from Grant Elliott, Founder and CEO of Rosslyn-based Ostendio, a company that focuses on I.T. compliance and security. Ostendio’s main product is My Virtual Compliance Manager (MyVCM), a platform that helps companies manage risk and bring their employees into compliance with standards and policies.

It’s common knowledge that the concept of cybersecurity is more relevant than ever before. Words and phrases like “cybercriminal,” “phishing” and “data breach” are now part of the public lexicon. Companies that handle sensitive information and data are increasingly beefing up their online defenses, and part of that process means getting employees up to speed.

“People are the weakest link,” Elliott said. “You can encrypt data to the highest degree possible … but if your people are being careless, information is going to get out and intruders are going to get in.”

MyVCM screenshot, High Level Control AuditUsing MyVCM, organizations can build out workflows that hold their employees accountable for keeping up-to-date with industry standards, training regimens and security regulations. The platform assigns employees individual scores that illustrate how close they are to full compliance, for instance. Those scores can then be checked against other employees or the company as a whole, and employees are given clear instructions on what they can do to improve.

Elliott started Ostendio with two other co-founders in 2014. In the years since they founded the company, Ostendio has grown from a handful of employees in a shared workspace to more than a dozen people in a dedicated office space. The company has also cultivated a list of clients that includes more than 60 companies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and Israel.

Ostendio founders left to right: Jermaine Jones, COO; Grant Elliott, CEO; Rohit Johri CTO“We’ve continued to expand,” Elliott said. “We’ve evolved and grown in a number of different dimensions.”

Though the company was founded with the healthcare industry in mind, it now services businesses that operate in a multitude of industries.

“We’re not doing anything that’s specifically healthcare,” Elliott said. “Critical infrastructure, retail, finance, aerospace, all of these industries have a complex ecosystem with a requirement to protect and share sensitive data.”

And it’s not just about cybersecurity and risk management, either. Companies can use MyVCM to make sure employees are compliant in topics like sexual discrimination, company policy and product documents, as well.

With all those different uses for the product, Elliott said there’s plenty of room for more growth.

“Do I see us doubling in size over the next year or so? Sure,” Elliott said. “I think we can get to become a $100 million company.”

Above all else, Elliott said it’s the Ostendio team’s passion for building a great product that drives the company’s expanding operations.

“Regardless of how opportune how the market might be, it still comes from a relentless focus on delivery and execution,” he said. “For me, that relentless, driven execution is what’s helping us grow.”

by Tim Regan — February 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 12:48 p.m.) Up-and-coming tech companies that cater to the U.S. government now have a refuge in Rosslyn.

Government contracting startup accelerator Eastern Foundry threw a party last week to celebrate the opening of its new office on the 10th floor of 1100 Wilson Blvd. It first announced the expansion last June.

Though the 19,237-square-foot space is slightly smaller than Eastern Foundry’s first office in Crystal City, it still offers plenty of room for government-focused startups.

People playing table tennis at Eastern FoundryThe new Rosslyn office features an open layout and is geared more toward tenants that work with civilian government agencies, said Eastern Foundry co-founder Andrew Chang. The space features 43 private offices, three conference rooms, a training room and a shared common area with couches, chairs, tables and games.

“It’s two very different vibes, and that’s what we’re going for,” Chang said. “Crystal City is Pentagon-focused. It’s more office intensive. Here, we’re kind of pushing a more innovative, younger crowd.”

In Crystal City, many of Eastern Foundry’s tenants work with sensitive government defense contracts and therefore need a little more privacy, he explained. In contrast, the Rosslyn office is suited for collaboration and open discussion. Job opportunities and announcements are beamed onto two televisions in the office’s kitchen each day, for instance.

Eastern Foundry party on Thursday, Feb. 2Representatives from dozens of small businesses mingled over food and drinks during the company’s grand opening party last Thursday. Though the new office has been open for less than a week, it’s already about 30 percent full, Chang said. Eastern Foundry expects that number will grow quickly.

“Virginia is all about business,” Chang said. “It’s very small business friendly and it works for our member companies.”

But it’s not just Eastern Foundry’s tenants that stand to benefit from the new office. Rosslyn itself could also see an economic boost from all the new tech companies setting up shop there.

“Eastern Foundry is a unique and important addition to our business community because they are cultivating the next generation of government-focused technology companies,” said Mary-Claire Burick, president of the Rosslyn BID. “These companies, and the investment capital and young talent they attract, stand to have a major impact in Rosslyn for years to come.”

Check out some more photos of Eastern Foundry’s new offices below.

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